This is a translation of my “exclusive” Content of the german Website www.theplanets.de . Since Mike and his People are too busy to maintain their Site more regularly I have decided to translate this Page to YOUR favorite Language. Please excuse some grammar or vocabulary errors. (Of course these are ONLY mistyped letters.... you can collect them...ha ha ha)
You can enlarge most of the pictures by clicking on them
After reading this: Don’t hesitate to drop some lines in our Guestbook (language doesn’t matter). We are very interested!
Robert Madsen Webmaster
BACKSTAGE WITH THE PLANETS
It doesn’t happen very often that you are able to meet with your favorite Artists from your Youth. But thanks for the Supporting Act for DEEP PURPLE I had the wonderful Oppurtunity to meet for the first time with Mike Batt and his wonderful new Band THE PLANETS and witness their Preparations for their Gig.
Perhaps I should mention that I am maintaing the official german Mike Batt Website at www.mikebatt.de . My friend Sebastian Ott (who took the photos) and I got them to know as very adorable, nice and provident people
After drying our wet hands and calming down we talked about their Music and their german Website.
THE PLANETS on the Open Air Stage in Hamburg’s Stadtpark
It’s the first Concert Tour for Beth Akers who turned out to be a very attractive young lady who doesn’t only play Oboe and Cor Anglais but - to my surprise - Keyboard as well. Nobody would notice that she has joined the Group very late and had to learn all parts in only a couple of weeks. She brilliantly replaces Salima Williams who has left the group - changing the balance between Blond and Brunettes to 3:1 now
Later this evening some Deep Purple Fans must have rubbed their eyes when the four girls entered the Stage in very erotic, black dresses. But even this is one element in the Success of the PLANETS. Even when some established classical purists like the english Singer Sir Thomas Allen refuse to accept that.
Ruth Miller - Beth Akers
It was great to know that one of the Girls is a German Lady. Anne-Kathrin Schirmer comes from Neustadt near Hannover and after our very succesful Interview on these german pages she promised to contribute some Material. The german readers will look forward to read special anecdotes or reports from the personal view from “their” Group Member. The german audience was surprised when Anne spoke some words in perfect German to thank them.
Ben Pugsley, the second Guitar-Player of the Group proved even on the Soundchecks his unbelievable Talents on different Instruments. The Bandana he wears now seems to become his own “brand”. During the Soccer World Championships Mike Batt suggested to cut and dye his hair forming a St. Georges Cross (read the recent newsletters). When The Planets performed in Germany’s ZDF Fernsehgarten he was seen with extreme short hair. Since then he appears with his Bandana on public Performances (Asia and Germany).
Robert Madsen - Anne-Kathrin Schirmer
Anne and Ben in “ZDF Fernsehgarten” (TV Show in Germany)
Ruth Miller - Lac-Hong Phi - Beth Akers
When we were on their Soundcheck Routine we were glad to be able to congratulate all Planets Members for forming such a great Group. Of course we congratulated Beverley who is clapping to Anne guitar play on the Picture to the right. While Bev’s Instrument is the Double Bass she learned to play Guitar in a crash course when the group was formed and she has to change her Instruments amidst of a Piece.
Lac-Hong Phi plays the Cello and was very interested in the german Website and asked us about the upcoming german Election. By the way - after their Performance he took out his own Digital Camera and took some Photos of us too - for his family Album I guess (Or will we see these on the english Website?)
Anne-Kathrin Schirmer - Beverley Jones
Die Gruppe beim Soundcheck
Jonathan Hill and Ruth Miller are playing two Instruments which are very apparent with their complicated Tunes in each Piece - Violin and Flute.
I got to know Jonathan and Ruth backstage were they had a light meal before they went to their Soundcheck. We laughed about the nicknames each groupmember has. Jonathan told me that they use to call him “Jono” which is a short form for “Jonathan”. But he was a bit confused that sometimes they call him “Hank” (which isn’t quite obvious). Mike told me that Lac-Hong is called “Lackster” or “Lackers” and Michael is called “Kruky”. But he didn’t tell me if they had some nicknames for the Girls as well....
(But thanks to Mike I can say now that he uses to call Beverley “Bevvers”) - Well, in Fact I have my own nickname too. My Surname is Madsen but when I was in the Army they used to call me Madnes. (Sometimes they were right with this Nick.)
The Instruments Jonathan, Ruth and Beth are playing are very movable. While the others are “tied” by their cables to some particular places they can walk around and form new Combinations. One example is the piece “The Journey of a Fool” where the Band forms two Groups of a Rock and a Classical Part who “communicate” during the piece.
(“I was never aware that this “song” was in fact a “Duel”. But after seeing their performance I asked myself why Mike Batt shouldn’t turn his “Tarot Suite” into a stage play. Would be great, I think!” Robert Madsen)
Ruth Miller - Beverley Jonesolin
Michael Kruk - Lac-Hong Phi
Sitting behind his ROLAND “V” Drumkit Michael Kruk has the smallest Elbow Room. His electronic Percussions are very impressive. Since all Sounds of his drums and cymbals are produced electronically he can change the character of his performance and produce special effects like Gongs and other exotic Percussions. Compare his Set with the Deep Purple’s Drumkit in the background of the Photo. Doesn’t it look antediluvian compared to Michael’s?
We were very impressed as Michael spoke some german Words “Herzlichen Dank”.
We were cordially and openhearted received by the group and we felt that our Sympathy for these People grew with each moment.
Mike Batt discusses the Costumes for the Performance whith the dresser.
Mike Batt talking to the Webmaster (Prost!)
Der Auftritt der Band am Abend
An excuse for the bit too “tiny” cloakroom
Beverley Jones playing Bass Guitar
The concert started at 7 pm and around 4000 People received the Group with mixed Emotions (1000 more listened from the Park outside). But soon after the Group demonstrated their Style with “Bolero Fantasy” they became enthusiastic. The audience applauded and cheered when the Band began really to rock when they played their second Piece “Journey of A Fool”. Their electric Guitars and the Drumkit dominated the Set and so even the pure Deep Purple Fans were satisfied by their sound. The Group was well received.
I have to admit that even I - a fan of Mike Batt’s arrangements since the Seventies - wasn’t quite sure how a Rock audience would react to Mike’s “schizophonic” Style. But Hamburg’s audience reacted positively to the unusual Mixture between Rock-, Jazz and Classical Elements. The audience did recognize the works of Ravel, Bizet and Mike Batt himself and cheered as they discovered how brilliantly the Group played. One of the Highlights of the Set was the Duet between Michael and Ben “Taranta Y Rumba” which is played on acoustic Guitar and Bongo only. They earned a big applause.
After thirty Minutes they completed their set with the title Song of their Album “Classical Graffiti” and waved Goodbye to the audience that was now warmed up and anticipated the main Attraction. Deep Purple.
Performing “A ONE MINUTE SILENCE” THE PLANETS featuring Robert Madsen
From left to right: Beverley Jones - Michael Kruk - Anne-Kathrin Schirmer - Ben Pugsley - Robert Madsen (With Hamburg Souvenir)- Jonathan Hill - Beth Akers - Lac-Hong Phi - Ruth Miller
I would like to say Thank You to all Band Members whom we got to know as being so cheerful and warmhearted. Thanks to Mike Batt for his Invitation to this Gig. And last but not least - Thanks to Dwayne and Stephen who made it possible that everything worked well.
Cheers Robert Madsen (Webmaster of these pages)
P.S.: Thanks to Sebastian Ott who took the Photos for this Report.